Increase in lines charges: up $52 a year

Graham Clark.
Graham Clark.
Electricity consumers in North Otago will be paying an extra $52 a year from the start of April after lines company Network Waitaki confirmed yesterday charges were rising.

In South Canterbury, line charges are rising even more, up by $84.

From April 1, Network Waitaki will raise its charges by an average of 7.2% for the average household (9000 kilowatt hours per year on the 15c price plan) or about $4.39 per month.

Chief executive Graham Clark said the increase was made up of a 5.8% increase in distribution charges and a 10.7% increase in transmission charges.

Distribution charges cover the costs that Network Waitaki faced in building, operating and maintaining its local distribution network, which covered the area from the Waitaki River to Shag Point and up the Waitaki Valley as far as Ohau and the Hakataramea Valley.

Transmission charges were from National Grid operator Transpower.

Mr Clark said both charges together made up about 30% of consumers' electricity bills.

''Electricity distribution companies are facing rising costs to comply with new health and safety regulation and additional Commerce Commission and Electricity Authority regulatory reporting and audit requirements.''

He said much of the network dated back to the 1960s and needed investment, and a rise in charges was also needed to ensure its safety and reliability.

''As part of an ongoing replacement and renewal programme we will spend close to $9 million in capital projects over the next year to renew and upgrade the distribution network and secure the transmission supply to cope.''

Network Waitaki board chairwoman Clare Kearney said although charges had been held at a low level ''over many years'', it was now necessary to increase them.

Last year the company raised the annual line charge (which does not include the electricity cost) 4.1% from $591.20 (excluding GST) to $614.90.

Alpine Energy chief executive Andrew Tombs said the company's line charge would go up 14%, or $84, due to instructions from the Commerce Commission and increases in transmission charges.

''The biggest reason is the Commerce Commission, the regulator for the industry, has advised us that our return on an investment ... is too low to maintain and retain a resilient and reliable and secure network ...'' Mr Tombs said.

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